My cowboy is 53 years old, and he eats like a teenager — which is to say he eats a lot, and much of it is red meat, full-fat cheese, eggs, butter and bread. He should be fat and sickly, if you believe common nutritional wisdom in the nation right now. But he’s not.
In fact, the cowboy is in phenomenally good shape. His only obvious health problems stem from “wearing out” his joints from doing stuff like roping calves and playing football. Like most ranching folks I know, the cowboy is strong, fit and has the stamina of a much younger man — all while never turning down ice cream.
What’s going on? Well, it might be counterintuitive to see the cowboy’s lifestyle as healthy, but it is in fact scientifically sound to make such a statement. It turns out that people who eat high-fat, high-calorie diets are not adversely impacted by this diet, if they are also intensely physically active.
According to research out of Indiana University, a person’s level of physical activity is much more important than what they eat. Researches divided 14 subjects into two groups. Both groups ate an “unhealthy” high-fat breakfast of 960 calories. One group exercised at high intensity for at least 30 minutes, the other was sedentary. Researches then measured stuff like the diameter of the brachial artery. After the fatty meal, the sedentary group had the greatest obstruction of blood flow while the active group had…no change at all. That’s right. None. Also, the sedentary folks saw their triglycerides increase 184 percent, whereas the active people had an increase of only 47 percent.
This, my friends, is why cowboys and cowgirls don’t get fat, in spite of their awesomely yummy, meaty, fatty diets. They do physically demanding work, all day long, like people evolved to do. They don’t sit behind a desk like I do, reading super scary articles on the New York Times website about how bad meat is for you. Don’t expect this information to be widely available to the general public, though — not with all the money there is to be made off of dieting. (The weight-loss industry generates about $68 billion in the US each year.)
Which leads me to why I hate the newest trendy fitness club chain, Monkey Bar Gym.Boo, hiss.
Not content to merely offer fitness equipment and classes like normal gyms, this new chain has decided to indoctrinate its members in the “dangers” of eating meat, saying it’s bad for people and the planet. If that were the case, the aforementioned study would not be true, and we would not have eyes in the fronts of our heads like all the other predators. We’d have eyes on the sides of our heads, like all the other herbivorous prey animals. We also wouldn’t have canines. Science aside, Monkey Bar Gym wants us all eating seeds and nuts before driving to their gym to do things called “hanging leg raises”.
Think I’d rather stick to steak and horseback riding.
Pass the butter.